DUNKIRK (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Dunkirk:

1. In one of the last few scenes of this movie, a young soldier woke up from his deep slumber, oblivious to everything that happened around him (and outside of his safety blanket slash uniform). In some absurd way, I actually envied that man because I was trying my best not to fall asleep amidst the blatant monotony that I was watching onscreen. I was also glad that Christopher Nolan finally learned how to edit his films below the two hour running mark because I felt every single minute of this one.

2. To be fair, it seemed like its main purpose was to give the audience the full war experience (but why??) and it succeeded in that aspect. I could easily picture Nolan invoking the iconic Gretchen Barretto as Victoria Valera: “You want war? I’ll give you war!!” And he did.

The excellent sound design, mostly composed of bullets whizzing from all directions and multiple random explosions, made me want to duck along with the troops. One of the sequences that I particularly liked involved some sort of ripple effect on a beach after a bombing that culminated with lots of sand flying directly to the screen. It was so realistic that I felt the need to brush off some imaginary grains that flew into my hair.

Visual and aural feast, I tell you.

3. I should have done a more thorough cleaning of my ears before leaving home because those thick accents were just too hard to understand (and this was already considering that the movie had very minimal dialogue). Subtitles please!!

4. One of my favorite films of all time had a short (yet brilliant) Dunkirk sequence as well. Go watch Atonement.

5. Inasmuch as I adored Hans Zimmer, his scoring here was just relentless. It felt like he wanted to dictate how the audience should feel in every scene, very much like canned laughs in a sitcom (“O guys, prepare na kayo kasi exciting part na ‘to ayan na ang pounding music…”).

6. I just learned that one stretcher takes the place of seven standing men on a ship. It was heartbreaking to hear a commander ask how many more of the wounded would need to be transported. If Andrew Garfield was here, this wouldn’t even be a question.

7. I guess the overall feeling of emotional detachment stemmed from the lack of back story for its characters. It was just hard to completely empathize with any single one of them because they merely served as pawns in the backdrop of a prominent war (made more evident when all the recognizable names survived). Which was good news for Harry Styles, who was probably cast as the Hollywood equivalent of Ronnie Alonte.

8. “He’s not himself. He may never be himself again.” We were all survivors when the end credits rolled.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (Luc Besson, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:

1. I remember watching the execrable Jupiter Ascending and wishing that it was a ride in Enchanted Kingdom’s Rialto instead. I had the exact same feeling with this newest flick by Luc Besson, something that I should probably have seen in 3D/4DX.

The lack of a solid story would have been forgivable with a more immersive viewing experience (moving seats to match all the chase sequences, blasts of wind from giant ceiling fans, a spray of mist here and there). I was also curious to know the aroma of all those pearls being pooped by the alien armadillos.

2. Kainggit si Ate Avatar. Her prep before an “I woke up like this” Instagram selfie consisted only of a simple facial wash of gold pearls (water-free!) and a few pisil-pisil on her already glowing cheeks. She actually resembled a bald version of Wilma Doesnt, if Wilma ingested a ton of silver and jars of glitter.

3. I know a lot of people that hated Cara Delevingne because 1) she’s part of the Bad Blood squad, 2) they immediately judged her after her snarky (er, frank) comments at a group of elderly morning show hosts while promoting Paper Towns, and 3) they would never ever ever be her. Wait, why do I sound like Tay-Tay? (Answer: I’m a Swiftie and I adore her posse.)

Cara was more of her same sassy self here, trying desperately to create sparks with Dane DeHaan who really looked like her twin brother that hadn’t slept since 2015. I could imagine her rolling her eyes upon reading the part of the script where she was supposed to be hit by the alien king’s crown and had to act funny while fainting cross-eyed. Oh, the things them British had to do to win over the American market!

4. To be fair, this was a visual treat as expected from the same director of The Fifth Element and Lucy. I particularly liked the concept of that CGI market where patrons had to walk around a vast desert while wearing high-tech helmets to see the actual funkadelic stalls.

5. The biggest surprise here was a shape-shifting, pole-dancing, cabaret-performing Rihanna. Sure, the role basically required her to just dance while transforming into a naughty nurse, a naughty school girl, a naughty Roller girl from Boogie Nights, and a naughty French maid among others (if she was a shape-shifter though, why did she choose to always look like Rihanna?), but she brought the necessary sizzle even as a mere voice for her blobby character (best line: “Life’s a drag when you don’t have an identity to call your own”).

I actually stopped caring about the Wonder Twins as soon as she showed up. Her character’s demise signalled the start of another nap in time for the third act.

6. I was a bit distracted by the silver patilya of Clive Owen. Also, Kris Wu. WUW!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

KITA KITA (Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Kita Kita:

1. Where do we draw the line between persistence and obsession? Do we consider a grand gesture like asking someone out for a coffee date via a huge billboard in Morayta sweet or repulsive? If Xian Gaza actually looked like Daniel Matsunaga, would he still be considered a creepy stalker or just a determined romantic?

2. One of my biggest concerns with this movie was that after it made us fall in love with its unconventional lovers, it tried to sell us this disturbing (and Machiavellian?) big reveal that nothing was actually wrong with the couple’s predator-prey relationship history (I felt the exact same way when Maricel Soriano fell in love with her rapist in Dahas, but then that wasn’t even close to being a romantic-comedy). He knowingly took advantage of her disability, period.

It was truly unfortunate not only because the first two-thirds of the movie was deeply engrossing and enjoyable, but also because it didn’t really need any twist to come up with an interesting resolution.

I was more curious to know how Lea (Alessandra de Rossi) would have reacted after she regained her sight and discovered the true physical aspects of Tonyo (Empoy Marquez). In one scene, she even joked “Kung makita kita, baka pang-leading man ang mukha mo”. Wouldn’t it have been great to know her actual feelings upon seeing that he actually looked more like a stuntman?

3. Having said that, I was really impressed with the #AlEmpoy tandem because despite the odd pairing and clunky third act, they really made this love story work. Halos mamatay ako sa kilig sa unang Two Less Lonely People in the World montage. I swear I had this huge smile plastered on my face during that sequence. I even teared up a bit because I get really emotional whenever I see two people happily in love. Sobrang bagay sila.

4. Alessandra has always been consistently good in everything. Here, she was empathetic even as a cranky and bitter blind woman. When she cried while drawing on the eyes of the Daruma Doll to complete her wish, I was crying along with her.

The bigger acting surprise though was Empoy. He was just effortlessly funny whether he was applying breath freshener on his wrists, or mangling idioms (“The way to man’s heart is through large intestine”), or delivering a throwaway quip (“Kelangan mo ng asukal, ang asim kasi ng mukha mo”). There were moments when Alessandra looked like she was no longer acting while laughing at some of Empoy’s hilarious jokes (best one: “We have similar. Rities.”).

And that ramen scene, oh my heart!!

5. Pinoy Film/TV Trope: Any character crossing the street or standing near the sidewalk with vehicles zooming by has a 90% chance of getting run over. Survival rate of that unfortunate soul would be 10%. The victim in this movie did not beat any of the said odds. Enough please.

(Also, what happened to that sickness storyline of Tonyo?)

6. Some of the dialogue in the movie sounded off, like when Lea kept saying PG-rated lines (“Puputulin ko ang talong diyan sa gitna ng mga hita mo!”, “May nunal ka sa pribadong parte ng katawan mo!”) or sexist remarks (“Mas malandi ka pa sa babae!”). She also had this Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo voiceover during the confrontation scene with her cheating boyfriend that lasted forever. It was supposed to sound poetic, but fell flat.

7. Several scenes had poor lighting and instances where the camera kept tilting and shaking violently. What happened there?

At least those gorgeous shots in the Sapporo Botanical Garden (?) more than made up for them. I really need to visit Japan soon. Friends, ano na? The international setting was also really apt since this had the feel of a (Japanese? Korean? Thai?) rom-com.

8. For a blind person, Alessandra’s eyebrows were always on fleek, no?

9. Sigrid Bernardo is one of my all-time favorite local directors. If you end up really liking this one, you should also watch Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita, Lorna, and her short film Ang Painting ni Tatay. I loved every single one of those (all five-star films, sadly her streak ended here).

10. So all this time I thought that “nomo” was actually gay lingo (or jeprox slang) for “inom”. I had no idea that it was an actual Japanese word that meant “let’s drink”. Nyeaaaaaaaam!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BLOODY CRAYONS (Topel Lee, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Bloody Crayons:

1. During the height of Scream fever in the late ’90s, Viva Films attempted to create (read: blatantly ripped-off) a Pinoy version of that popular slasher flick and came up with the terrible Sumigaw Ka…Hanggang Gusto Mo. It was directed by Eric Quizon who had the audacity to cast himself as the movie’s killer and also included the entire cast of T.G.I.S. (kids today would never know the kilig brought by the Wacks and Peachy love team), plus other GMA Artist Center artists question mark.

In one scene, the killer (probably a fan of Mara del Valle) was running after Gladys Reyes who actually tried to escape by climbing up a fireplace. She ended up getting roasted, of course (silly girl, not even Becky would go up a chimeneya to run away from Ms. Minchin).

It was the kind of So Bad, It’s Horrible type of movie that you would only want to see once in your life due to severe trauma, but couldn’t resist to mock whenever it would get shown on cable. It was also the reason why a number of my friends that I forced to watch with me ended up swearing off ever watching Pinoy films in cinemas. I hope you could forgive me, FDCP.

2. Bloody Crayons would probably be the millennial equivalent of that trashy movie, only this time produced by Star Cinema and starred a number of Star Magic starlets. Most of the previous horror films directed by Topel Lee had obvious influences from popular Asian counterparts and this one was no exception (albeit more of Hollywood movies from the opening film-within-a-film sequence used in the Scream series down to the other ones reminiscent of the Final Destination series, Identity, Cabin in the Woods, Don’t Breathe, and countless others of the same genre).

I hadn’t read the Wattpad novel that this was based on so I really wasn’t sure if the lack of originality was from the actual material or the treatment itself. (I was also confused by the separate original story credit given to its three writers when this was clearly an adaptation.)

3. The horror genre had always been the waterloo of our best local directors so I really wasn’t expecting much from this slasher flick. Unfortunately, it still lacked the fun and excitement of seeing mostly annoying characters get killed one by one. Really, all I hoped for was that the cast would be killed according to their acting prowess (naturally starting with the most bano ones), but that obviously didn’t happen with Ronnie Alonte and Elmo Magalona as two of the three remaining survivors.

I actually couldn’t decide who gave the worse performance since both of them could easily replace Aljur Abrenica as the real-life Machete. Ronnie still sounded like a talking robot jakono while Elmo acted like he was a hypnotized victim of the Budol-Budol Gang (except in one kitchen scene where he delivered his lines like he was having a seizure, complete with flailing hand movements). Seriously, mas gusto ko pa si Elmo nung nagpagulong-gulong siya sa burol with Julie Ann San Jose in Just One Summer.

4. Wait, a young wannabe director obsessed with shooting a horror movie near a body of water? Oh, Dawson Leery!!

5. I still couldn’t fathom why there had to be a sequence where the entire gang decided to go for a swim at the beach and they took their clothes off one at a time while the camera voyeuristically lingered on their young bodies (slow motion shots of topless, abs-less guys and granny bathing suit-wearing girls, really?!).

I could almost hear the director saying, “Pasensiya na kayo sa acting ni Ronnie. Eto additional three seconds ng pusod nya para di kayo masyadong lugi.” Next time please leave this type of sexploitation to the experts (yes, Seiko Films of course!).

6. Speaking of acting, I really liked the performances of Jane Oineza and Maris Racal. I wish they could be given more to do in future Star Cinema movies other than the typical best friend or sister roles.

On the other hand, could somebody please tell Yves Flores not to imitate Jake Cuenca’s “akting na akting” delivery? People laughed hysterically in the scene where he was screaming “Bro, anong nangyari sa’yo??” to a corpse with huge stab marks on its neck. Was he gunning for the PMPC Star Award for Best New Movie Actor?

7. If you’d seen a lot of horror movies (or read a lot of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike) with fake twists and red herrings (this one reminded me of The Last Act), it really wasn’t too hard to guess the identity of the killer. All it took was just a single head shot to ruin the surprise.

8. I was really interested to know more about the Bloody Crayons game since it looked fun to play during a barkada night out. Sadly, I couldn’t see any group including it in any of their parties any time soon since the rules were just too complex (relative to Truth or Dare). Who would even remember what each color stood for when all of you would be presumably drunk on Red Horse?

Also, was it just my oily skin or do crayons really not work as markers on the face? Did they use craypas instead? So this should have been Bloody Craypas?

9. Where was this movie shot? (I noticed one of the characters was carrying a Bohol bag so…) The place looked gorgeous. At least maganda ang cinematography.

10. One character’s words of wisdom to another standing on a cliff: “Mag-ingat ka ha. Pag mahulog ka dyan, baka di ka na makabalik.”

Wehhh, di nga??

11. I wasn’t sure if I laughed the loudest when the group used a rattan chair as a battering ram, or when a character was miraculously saved from a gunshot by his dog tag, or when Umagang Kay Ganda suddenly played during the final sequence.

12. BBC One recently adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None into a mini-series. Better actors, better production values, better use of your time.

13. Hanggang sa horror movie may hugot pa rin ang hindi maka-move on na killer? Tengene lungs.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY (Cathy Garcia-Molina, 2010)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Miss You Like Crazy:

1. In our province of Batangas back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, we had not been introduced yet to a loofah so we would use these pumice rocks (also known as panghilod) while bathing (usually in a batis) to scrape off all the dirt and grime from our skins.

They were all I could think of whenever Mia (Bea Alonzo) would leave signed copies of panghilod basically everywhere. More than sayang, I felt really bad imagining such a lovely girl all covered with so much libag.

(Tita Tip of the Day: Forget all the exfoliants in Lush. Grab a rock from your garden, use it in the shower, and wash all of your problems away.)

2. John Lloyd Cruz (as Alan) still wore these long and baggy pants in the movie so this was obviously during his pre-Liz Uy days.

Now his trousers all look so tight like he doesn’t want to have kids and they’re always cropped at least two inches above the ankle (read: bitin and/or baston) like he’s auditioning for the role of Bilbo Baggins in a local version of the Lord of the Rings.

(Yes, inggit lang ako kasi hindi ako fashyown.)

3. This love story relied too much on serendipity. It was the kind of movie where two random vehicles would end up next to each other in traffic because the fated lovers were meant to have a Tutuban Mall date (sorry, it was done much better in Minsan, Minahal Kita).

Years later, they would bump into each other in a hotel in Malaysia because, well, destiny.

Seriously, Lolo Uly (Noel Trinidad) and his magical prediction essentially told the entire plot during the movie’s 30-minute mark. The remaining one and a half hours was completely unnecessary (and very bagot because the movie actually felt like three hours).

4. Since this was a Cathy Garcia-Molina flick, somebody had to wear her trademark wigs. Poor Maricar Reyes (as Alan’s girlfriend Daphne) had to sport a hairstyle that was a cross between a mullet and a pixie cut and made her look like she just recovered from a heavy bout of typhoid fever.

Also, why was she portrayed as a villain just because she didn’t find the idea of a Pasig River cruise romantic? Anak ng Pasig naman ang pagiging anti-elitista dito.

Even worse, in a succeeding scene where Alan explained to Mia that Divisoria briefs were not good fixed assets (pati underwear investment na din?), he was just giving sound advice. Why the double standard? Pfft!!

5. “Alan ba talaga ang pangalan mo? Bakit ka lingon nang lingon sa August?”

Dear, whenever somebody shouts a name (any name for that matter) in a crowded place, expect people to look. I’m sure everyone would be curious to know who that crazy screaming woman was.

6. So Alan’s fridge was stocked with microwave-ready food like filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes, cordon bleu, fettucine alfredo, and chicken rosemary, but he chose to eat…Greenwich pizza, of course!!

7. Sex on the stairs. Ang sakit siguro sa likod nun. I wasn’t surprised that Mia was crying after Alan climaxed twenty seconds later.

8. Paco Park should get secondary billing in future Star Cinema movies as the ultimate love destination (also seen in Starting Over Again, Barcelona, and even Dolce Amore). Still single? You know where to go.

9. Maswerte yung Malaysian version ni Paolo Bediones ha. Nakarami ng halik kay Bea infer.

10. In one scene, Mia had this huge stain on the vajayjay area of her dress so it looked like she peed herself. In another scene, Ryan Eigenmann’s entire forehead looked sunburnt.

Poor production values or were they also destined to be that way?

11. “Fate only gives us one chance to get it right.”

Hindi totoo yan dahil may sequel pa nga ang One More Chance.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆